Why Does What You Eat Matter?
Today we’re going to look at the importance of eating healthy food and what unhealthy food can do to us. We’ll also explore why what we eat matters and what we should be eating. I promise it’s not complicated.
First we’re going to begin with Daniel’s food story. He was offered the old fashioned version of rich, fatty, tasty fast food, luscious baked goods, and wine. So why’d Daniel decide this wasn’t worth eating? Why’d it matter what he ate anyway? Let’s dive in.
The food Daniel had access to was like us calling Uber Eats and the richest most expensive meals, desserts, and wines suddenly showing up at our door. Maybe you’re saying “yes, please! I’d love that”.
Daniel 1:5 says “The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table”.
He had “uber” access to luscious food. I think the king knew the pull food has on people and wonder if he had a false motive behind offering amazing food to his captives.
How’d you feel if your captor offered you all sorts of luxurious food?
People have a lot of emotions wrapped up in food. It’s needed for our survival but it’s also a sign of
- who we are on so many levels.
What’d you do if royal delicacies, pastries, rich and expensive meats, and wines were given to you? You’d probably do the opposite of Daniel. You’d decide to eat and enjoy everything offered and likely determine it didn’t matter what you ate.
But Daniel didn’t do this.
Despite being in captivity Daniel was in a position to get most anything he wanted, the choicest of food and drinks included. But he “resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” Daniel 1:8
Why would Daniel have done that? Most of us would probably say “yes, please! I’ll take all of that.”
Daniel would have been familiar with the first five books of the Old Testament and Proverbs. As a young man of God his decision not to eat royal food was based on searching Scripture.
Here are some questions Daniel may have been looking to answer as he studied Scripture:
- Does scripture say I can’t eat it or does it go against a moral principle in the Bible?
- Is my reason or motive for eating it pure?
- Will I or others escape corruption or contamination if I eat these things(1)?
I’ve studied food for years and have even studied the Bible in relation to food but I’ve never looked at food the way Daniel might have. Studying the book of Daniel to figure out what Babylonian kings ate, led me to these questions. (So glad people write books on ancient topics.)
Daniel knew that much of what the king offered was forbidden by God.
He also knew that God’s word says “when you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.” Proverbs 23:1-3.
There’s also a chance Daniel, as a wise young man, realized he’d be morally compromised if he at the kings food. He’d be doing it to earn the king’s favor and not God’s.
Lastly, he knew the kings food would impact his physical health.
We see this in Daniel 1:12-13, “please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”
The original Hebrew for “vegetables”, used here, refers to any plant such as grains, beans, and vegetables. Daniel knew vegetables were the way to stay morally safe, keep his motives pure, and escape damage from unhealthy foods.
Before we move on, I want you to realize something, this was not an easy decision for Daniel to make. Go look at verse 8 again – Daniel “resolved” or “purposed”.
If you go to the original Hebrew this means Daniel “laid the decision to do right upon his heart”.
He’d decided in his mind to do right and then, instead of letting emotions get the best of him (cuz boy ‘oh boy it must have been hard), he told his emotions aka heart they were going to help support his decision.
Have you ever done something like this?
Determined with all you had, that nothing was going to stop you from accomplishing something, from seeing something through to the end?
Make a note of it and write down why you did that? What motivated you? What was the purpose behind the decision? What ended up happening? Is this something you still hold to?
Effects of Unhealthy Food
At this point you’re probably saying “no way” “not happening” “there is no way I’m going to only eat plants”.
You don’t have to.
We’re in a situation a lot like Daniel’s. We have royal delicacies all around us and worse than that, much of what we call food isn’t even food.
If Daniel knew the king’s real food wasn’t healthy, how much worse is the man-made processed food surrounding us?
Chemicals and additives and artificial anything does not equal food God created.
Here are a few things science found can happen when we eat these types of food:
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- our mood
- decreased intelligence
- brain fog
- body dissatisfaction
- fatty liver
- high blood pressure
- acid reflux
- irritable bowel syndrome
- irritable bowel disease
- kidney failure
- and so much more.
Daniel didn’t have researchers studying the effects of food on health but he still knew what healthy versus unhealthy food was.
Truth: Food can have a negative affect on our health.
The Reason to Eat Healthy
After eating “vegetables” for 10 days Daniel 1:15-16 says “they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.”
Immediately following this God gave Daniel “knowledge and understanding of all kinds…” and the king found Daniel and his friends (three guys joined him in his vegetable eating) “ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom”.
Favored by God and kings and better than anyone around. That’s impressive.
We need to resolve in our hearts to eat the food God created so we stay healthy and our minds stay sharp. The world is watching Christians and we’re called to be the light of the world.
If your job was to take care of the temple Solomon built, would you polish the gold, keep the floors clean, and only use the right oil for the lamps, etc?
Yes. You wouldn’t want the place where God met with the priests, on behalf of His people, to get ruined. Any idea where I’m going next?
You are the temple of God, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. You were fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image.
Are you taking care of yourself as well as you’d care for the physical temple? How well are you stewarding the body God gave you? Is what you eat having a positive or negative effect on your health?
What Should We Eat
The big question, the one you’ve been wanting answered since word one of this post is likely –
What should we eat?
The food supply in the United States has made this difficult. Your lives are busy and finding time to eat anything, let alone healthy food, is difficult. (take a look at these posts here, here, and here on planning and meal planning).
I get it, it’s easy to hit up a drive thru on your way from point A to B or run into the store and grab something already made.
You can do these things, but if you do, you need to be making the best choices possible.
How are you supposed to do that?
Ask yourself one question when deciding what to eat ~ Did God make the ingredients in what I’m about to eat?
If you can look at the ingredient list and say yes to that question, eat it.
Things God made include:
- whole grains,
- seeds, and
Sarah and I choose not to eat any animal protein but we’re not going to force that on you (In the future though, we may write about why we choose not to eat anything but plants)
The things you’d find growing on a farm, in an orchard, or roaming on a plain are the things God created.
But What About…
I know, I know.
What about all the good stuff in those bags, boxes, bottles, and cans. Can’t I eat any of them?
For most people following an 80/20 rule works. Eat 80% food that God created and 20% food that may not fall squarely in the “God created” camp.
Some of those 20% foods could be chips, some crackers, cookies, pastries, cakes, energy drinks, artificially or naturally flavored anything, sodas, some microwave and canned foods etc. The foods that have ingredients on them that couldn’t be found in nature or in your kitchen.
Some people have health issues that need to be corrected before these foods can be eaten again. Some people should never eat these foods.
It truly depends.
You have to know you, your body, and your relationship with food.
- Am I eating food to meet an emotional need that God wants to meet?
- Am I using food to soothe a wound, relieve stress or boredom, deal with a tough day, as a reward etc.? or
- Am I eating because I’m hungry?
- Am I eating only until I’m full?
- Am I eating food that will provide my body with the nutrients it needs to do the things God created me to do?
You see food throughout the Bible and enjoyed in all manner of ways.
Goodness, God sent the Israelite’s manna and meat because they were complaining on their journey to the Promised Land. The Promised Land is even described by the kind of food it produced.
God knows we need food.
He knows we love food.
He knows just what the bodies He created need so they can do all He created them to do.
- Will you resolve to eat healthy so you can be the best reflection of God possible?
- Will you ask the Holy Spirit to give you the strength, wisdom and determination to do this?
- Write down your reasons for eating healthy.
- Write down the things you believe God created you to do.
- Write down your dreams and goals for life.
- What would happen if your body got any of the above illnesses because of eating an unhealthy diet?
- What would happen if you traded an unhealthy diet for a healthy one?
Here’s a real food journal for you to use as you begin this healthy journey with God. We’ve listed the questions from today’s post inside the journal.
Don’t forget to hop over to this post and grab one or both of our meal planning sheets.
We’d love to hear what you decide to do and why you decide to do it. Leave us a comment below or send us a message here.